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The Cordoba Bible

My first impression of Cordoba as a city was unimpressive. A smaller version of Buenos Aires with less visual oomph. An abundance of churches with remnants of devotional stuff. Instinct told me our two month stay wasn’t going to be a spiritual experience.
I needed a sign.

The ‘light’ appeared in the form of Wendy; an expat from the States, living here with her Argentine boyfriend and the best thing that could have happened to my opinion of Cordoba. Not only did she talk about the city enthusiastically over a beer, but sent me a detailed Google Map with all her favourite spots clearly marked out. Places she had spent the past year getting to know. Score.

The newly christened ‘Holy Map’ is better than the tips you’ll get from the non-English speaking tourist information centre in the main Plaza. It’s pure gold. Naturally, it only seems right to spread the good word. Therefore, I offer some of my stand out impressions after following The Cordoba Bible according to Wendy:

Mercado Norte: A lively food market on the Northside. A cheap place to get all your fruit, veg and animal innards while you watch the colourful local vibe. Pack some elbow grease as it gets pretty pushy in there. The chilli lady rescued our Christmas food indulgence with much craved spice.

La Fabrica Cultural: We loved this place after seeing an outstanding, just how we like it – free – Flameno performance. A colourful cabaret atmosphere, with beer and good looking food that we didn’t try. No wine on the menu so we where forced to sneak in a take-away. Very cheap ass.
Check it out.

Alfonsina’s Pizza: Recommending a pizza place to us is like daring a drug addict to abstain for a week. We had to have a taste immediately. Our vote: We went hard; half provolone cheese, the other half cheese with extra cheese. Tasty as. Washed down with a potent white wine. Great atmosphere and indulgent food, with live music on most nights – Cuban beats when we dropped by. Other reviews put Alfonsina’s in the top 10 eats for Cordoba, so well worth a bite.

La Esquina de vida: Pretty cocky calling your shop ‘The corner of life’, but it works. Empanada paradise lives on the corner. Antiquated cool styling full of satisfied looking customers. Double thumbs up on Wendy’s food fetish.

Parque Sarmiento: Get past the gaudy theme park, candy apples and fairy floss to see locals strutting their stuff in the city’s main green space. Excellent people watching. There is also a dirt bike track and dubious public pool to cool off in. I couldn’t brave the pool, even with an updated Hep A vaccination.

Museo Superior de Belles Artes Evita: The 16th century building itself is worth the 3 peso entry fee. The former home of a rich family, turned art den. I visited during the week and had the paintings all to myself. Beautiful.

Museo de Memoria: A museum dedicated to the disappeared people of the military dictatorship. Walk through the cells used to detain prisoners. No joy here, but an important monument to people who are still ‘missing’ after 30 years.

Centro Cultural Espana Cordoba: Hip cultural centre with workshops, a sometimes live radio station, small art gallery and outdoor concert place. There wasn’t much playing over the New Year period but seems to be worth a look. We’re taking Wendy’s word as gospel on this one.

Buen Pastor Cultural Centre: A cool modern building renovation that used to house a female prison and is now dedicated to those who suffered under the military dictatorship. An artsy complex of cafes, restaurants, gallery spaces and live music every night. Plus an over-the-top light and dancing water fountain show featuring a Freddy Mercury soundtrack! The free fountain show takes place nightly at 7 and 11pm. All resources quote fountain regularity but we showed up twice for said show and had a no show? Buen suerte.

Plaza de Ninos: Big urban playground for children. Very funky in a grungy, 1970’s Sesame Street kind of way.

Parque Isla de los Patos: Sweet little park along the river. Every Sunday from 9-12am it’s closed to cars. Bikers, runners, rollers and kids play in the street. We never got up early enough to confirm how lovely it is, but walking past the river at other times, it looks like a good place to chill down and pretend you are somewhere less urban.

El Tren de las Sierras: We chose the train escape to Cosquin for our New Year camping jaunt, unfortunately we arrived to a rain soaked town and bailed on the nature experience. In the right weather it’s probably a great place to cool off in the river. The two hour train journey takes you to the end of the line and out of the city for just 6.50 pesos. The ride snakes along the river, passing through run down shacks on the outskirts of the city, quickly contrasting with a peek into the backyard of wealthier mansions, then opening up to expansive green rural spaces and the low hills known as the Sierras. The train journey alone is a great perspective into the many economic levels of Cordobese society. Programme.

I can also add an art experience to the list. Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes Emilio Caraffa: A funky modern art building with spacious white gallery rooms that contrast to the crowded streets outside. Full programme here. Thought provoking art from Argentina’s best.

My opinion of Cordoba has been resurrected. Over time I began to see the beauty in the old buildings sandwiched between the grime. For the complete manuscript, exact locations and more places to explore (including decadent food options), check out Wendy’s link. For visual highlights keep scrolling, or view images of our first impression of Springtime Cordoba.

If you have any must see places to add please let us know!

Kris

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